NBA Playoffs: Thunder Just Experienced What Playoff Basketball Frustration Is All About

After the Jazz “beat” the Thunder with a 140-139 overtime victory on Tuesday night, I looked at the reaction from the Thunder fans in the Daily Dime Live chat, I looked at the fallout on Twitter and I had some playful banter back and forth with various people in the blogging and blog-reading world. But still, I debated on whether or not to write this piece.

Despite what the proprietor of this website would lead you to believe, I really like this Thunder team. I’ve been big on Russell Westbrook since he was at UCLA. I’ve enjoyed watching him prove to the doubters that he’s a legit NBA point guard and one that will star in the association. I love the deadly repertoire that Kevin Durant destroys his opponents with. I’ve definitely seen more complete scorers throughout the history of this game than Kevin Durant but it isn’t a big number and it certainly isn’t a list of players that are more fun to watch than KD. I marvel at the amount of weapons he has at his disposal. He’s the NBA equivalent of Iron Man out there. And they have so many fun role players on this team (including my favorite college fan crush in Eric Maynor) that it is literally impossible for me to not enjoy this team play on a nightly basis.

Then you’ve got the community of Thunderites (a horrible nickname I came up with tonight). Royce Young is one of my favorite people to read because he has such passion for this young franchise and he’s just damn good at what he does. He has good people writing for him at Daily Thunder and whenever I peruse the comment sections of the site, I’m amazed at the thoughtful and intelligent nature of the ideas the readers type out to help add to the discussion.

I knew that if I wrote this piece, I’d end up most likely offending a fan base that I really do enjoy and that’s not my intention. I’m probably going to come off as smarmy, snarky or some other “S” word that ends in a “Y” that nobody wants to be labeled. Hopefully, they’ll see the merit in this post instead of reading it as hatred because that does not exist in my words here.

So here goes:

You’re blowing this no-call against Kevin Durant and the Thunder WAY out of proportion.

I’m reading things all over the internet about how Kevin Durant not getting a foul call at the end of a regular season game in which the Thunder will still get to go to the playoffs regardless of the outcome is a tragedy. Apparently, it’s a travesty and a sham and a mockery.

I’m sorry but you’ve got to get over this and put things in perspective.

CJ Miles did block Kevin Durant’s shot at the end of the game. You can clearly see that he gets a little ball. The problem with the block though is that he hit a crap-load of hand on the follow-through. It’s not even close. It should be a no-brainer call. Put Kevin Durant at the line for three shots. Considering he’s having a historic free throw shooting season, I’m guessing he makes two of the three at worst and the Thunder have to wait out a desperation heave with 0.6 seconds left. If the heave falls by the wayside, the Thunder are sitting pretty with 49 wins, five games to play and their sites on a possible division title.

Unfortunately, the whistle didn’t get blown. Welcome to the NBA.

This happens a lot. There is a definite problem with the officiating in the NBA. This isn’t any big newsbreak. There are missed calls all the time. There are missed calls that influence the final moments of a game. But they don’t decide the outcomes of the games. There were 45 missed OKC shots, 17 missed threes, five missed free throws, 18 turnovers, 28 points off of those turnovers, and 16 offensive rebounds given up in this game by the Thunder. One missed call did not lose the game at all.

Does it suck that you essentially got screwed on the final play of the game? Absolutely. Is it going to be the last time this happens to your franchise? Wait until you play the Lakers in the playoffs someday. This swift kick to the gonads is going to feel like a Swedish massage.

The Thunder fan base is extremely new to the NBA. You haven’t gone through this stuff before; I realize that. But you’re going to have to get used to it and get used to it quickly. You have a young, talented team that is going to be in the playoffs for the next 10 years, minimum. This is going to be a regular occurrence since you’re in a small market, according to most NBA fans. You’ve experienced the frustration of the Salt Lake Bias that sweeps through the NBA year after year. Just wait until you feel the East Coast Big Market Bias or the Lakers Need To Be In The Finals For Ratings Bias.

This is not a travesty. This is not tragic. This was losing a regular season game. You may think this took you out of division title contention or it might cause you to fall into the dreaded eighth seed by season’s end. It had no more affect on the standings than the Thunder dropping an early season road game in Sacramento. What about the other three overtime games the Thunder lost this season? They mean the exact same in the wins and losses columns that this “crushing defeat” does.

A tragedy is watching Danny Manning’s knees fail him time after time when he should have been one of the best players of the past 25 years.

A tragedy is watching a player get called for a foul because Kobe Bryant elbowed him in the nose during a crucial inbound moment of Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.

A tragedy is watching Greg Oden’s knee explode when he was starting to show that he could have a huge positive impact on the game and the future of the Western Conference.

A tragedy is watching Dwyane Wade get to the line in the 2006 NBA Finals because the Mavericks shot him a questionable glance as the fate of the 2006 NBA Finals was seemingly being scripted right in front of everyone’s eyes.

A tragedy is seeing Shaun Livingston’s knee ligaments play a game of Twister on the court.

Those are basketball tragedies. What you experienced Tuesday night was a great game have a deflating ending because Tony Brothers decided to swallow the whistle. You just experienced the equivalent of basketball indigestion.

Should you be mad? Sure. Should you be outraged? That’s taking it a bit far. This is not that big of a deal. You need to put it in a little bit of perspective and respect the history of bad NBA calls before you. This was no different than the phantom call on Paul Millsap in favor of your team a couple months earlier.

Do two wrongs make a right? Often never. But this is the officiating world we all have to live in until the machines take over the Earth and we get perfect robot referees.

Don’t let losses like this consume you. Take it for what it is, mull it over for a few minutes and move on. You don’t want to become that bitter fan base. That’s not fun for anybody.

And remember, you still have Kevin Durant and I owe Matt Moore a cake because of it.

Seth Carstens